Setting the Scope for Enterprise IT Architecture

Recently, one of the people I have been coaching in the area of Enterprise Architecture asked me a great question – one worth posting here. He said “what is the scope of the Enterprise Architect?” in context to the head of Application Development, the Lead Analyst or the Solution Architect.

I responded within the parameters of Enterprise Architecture at a company. EA provides IT governance and stewardship for any future technology planning and road map within a company or organization. An architect considers fundamental business drivers, structure of a system, it’s components and relationships and then creates or tunes the best design to meet the needs of the business drivers and the organizational goals.

In most organizations, there are many systems that may cross boundaries, and many people in various roles with varying responsibilities that blur these lines. Evolution of one system to achieve a goal is often not achievable without understanding the relationship to other systems. This is the scope of Enterprise Architecture and the EA – he or she must know about the scope of all the systems and make the best decisions possible for the greater good of the organization.

The scope includes knowing how systems and their components interact, and their relationships to other systems and their components. Scope of EA includes the principles that govern the design and evolving life of all of the systems. The skill of the enterprise architect is in their abilities to see things conceptually, and be able to scale up or down, seeing bottom-up and top-down whenever they desire to take another view, and to keep this is mind when making key and fundamental decisions.

They require the understanding of it’s relationship to all of the systems, needs, goals and desires of the organization. Making decisions without understanding this relationship is like designing a community in the desert without considering how air, rail and vehicle travel will reach it – the distance to the nearest power, water and electrical resources, and position on earth’s topography for all such needs. Regard for infrastructure is critical, and the style of the community based on earth’s disasters is the responsibility of such a planner.

These kinds of responsibilities like with the Enterprise Architect, so understanding the fit of the system to the organization is like the analogy of a town to earth’s landscape and the planners who must create great places to live. The EA is also responsible for ensuring that growth of the town can happen naturally, without crisis and that effective living can occur when introducing new services that those who dwell here need them.

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